Cliftonville ready to kick on after cup glory claims Martin Donnelly

Cliftonville's 'Martin Donnelly
Cliftonville's 'Martin Donnelly
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Cliftonville’s Martin Donnelly believes his team must use last week’s League Cup success as a platform to revive their flagging title hopes.

The little midfielder emerged the goal hero in an epic clash against Ballymena United by bagging a late winner which guaranteed the Reds the trophy for the third year on the bounce.

But it’s back to the bread and butter issues of the Danske Premiership on Saturday when Eddie Patterson’s Glentoran make the short trip across town to Solitude.

Having fallen 12 points behind Crusaders, the Reds’ Gibson Cup hopes are literally hanging by a thread.

They may have savoured the joy of parading the League Cup for three successive seasons, but their chances of repeating a hat-trick of title wins are rapidly evaporating.

It’s literally win or bust against Glentoran.

“We’ve been getting a lot stick because of our league form and rightly so,” said Donnelly.

“Admittedly, it hasn’t been great. We held a team meeting a few weeks back. We decided to focus on the game in front of us. Forget who is in front of us and who is behind us.

“People keep saying that we need to go on an unbeaten run to get back into contention.

“We just want to take one game at a time. We don’t want to look at who we play over the next few weeks. We simply want to beat the team in front of us.

“I reckon we are victims of our own success in many ways. It’s simply down to the fact we’ve being doing so well in recent years.

“We’ve three trophies in the boardroom and are lying fourth in the league table. Any other club in the league would bite your arm off for that.”

Donnelly believes there were signs in last week’s performance that indicates the Reds are ready to rumble again.

“There was a lot of pressure on us going into the final because we were everyone’s tip to win,” he added.

“I thought we were brilliant in the first half. Our pass and movement stuff was great. It was like the Cliftonville of old.

“And, we showed another side to our game in the second half when Ballymena came back to level. We didn’t panic and we dug in when we needed to.

“Once we weathered the storm, we got back to playing our football again. In all honesty, had we taken the chances that fell to us, we could well have been out of sight even before Ballymena’s opening goal.

“But that’s now history. We’ve won the league title for the past two years and we are determined to hold on to it. We’re not going to make predictions, but we want to pick up as many points as possible to close the gap at the top.”